While American expat Brooke prepares for the big move home, a new fear has emerged: how many Dutch faux pas will she commit in the US?
It takes a long time to get used to life in a foreign country. But after three years as an American expat living in the Netherlands and overcoming the small expat fears, I now have a very different fear: What will life back home be like?
With only a few months left before our repatriation, I’m starting to worry that we will commit some major faux pas after moving back to the US.
My repatriation fears as a Dutch-American expat
In no particular order:
- I’ll be that lady who kisses everyone – and not just once, but three times!
- My kids will get in trouble because they nonchalantly ask their teacher for a ‘rubber’ in the middle of class.
- I will wear orange pants to the neighbourhood coffee morning.
- And if that’s not bad enough, I will also be known as a close-talker. That whole concept of personal space, can someone explain it to me again?
- I will ride my bike… in the rain… in heels and a dress… holding an umbrella.
- My kids will get in trouble for singing the uncensored versions of popular songs on the playground (they don’t do censored versions in the Netherlands).
- Heck, I could even get a call from the school principal about my children trying to make political statements in class – they might abstain from saying the Pledge of Alliance or singing America the Beautiful simply because they’ve never done it before and don’t actually know the words.
- I will be that annoying car in front of you that doesn’t turn right on the red light.
- My kids will go crazy and start shouting and singing (uncensored songs) the first 12 times they encounter the cereal aisle of an American grocery store.
- Around the same time, I will have a breakdown in the grocery store and leave empty handed because there were just too many decisions to make. But on the way out, I will wish the cashier a fijne dag.
- When my son orders a grilled cheese at a restaurant, and they ask him what kind of cheese he wants, he will answer, “Young.”
- And when hubby orders a drink, he will ask for a Spa Blauw. And my kids will attempt to order ranja and Fristi.
- We will forget that it’s considered crude to ask for ‘the toilet’.
- At the end of the happy birthday song, one of us will inadvertently shout, “Hip! Hip!”
- We will leave our curtains open much longer than is socially acceptable.
- One of my boys will volunteer to play football, and have no idea what he just got himself into.
- My kids will get ridiculed for using words like plaster (Band Aid), ice lolly (Popsicle), rubbish (garbage), jumper (sweater) and full stop (period).
- At the beach or swimming pool or after a sporting event, my boys will change clothes right out in the open because they assume nobody cares.
- The fries will be awful.
- And I’m afraid we’ll miss Dutch directness. And square-shaped trees. Cobblestone streets. And comically steep staircases. Beautiful, cheap flowers everywhere. And the best bike paths known to humankind. And stroopwafels.